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Policy Brief / Energy

How to Refurbish All Buildings by 2050

Author(s): MEEUS Leonardo, AZEVEDO Isabel, GLACHANT Jean-Michel, KOTEK Péter, SZABÓ László, KADERJÁK Péter

Editor(s): ZORN Annika

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–– The objective of the 7th THINK report is to provide policy recommendations for the European Commission (DG Energy) on how to refurbish all buildings by 2050. The report is summarized in this policy brief.

–– Buildings account for 40% of the total energy consumption of the EU and they are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions (36% of the EU total). In order to achieve the 2050 EU building sector target, the energy performance of existing buildings will need to be improved substantially (excluding those planned for demolition). This can be done either by integrating the use of renewable energy sources into existing buildings, by replacing building components and systems in order to reduce energy consumption, or to use electricity which will be decarbonised by 2050.

–– It is essential to improve price incentives and to further develop the building refurbishment market to minimise the associated costs. However this in itself will not be enough to meet the target. The expected investments in existing building stock that are considered beneficial for society are not economical at today’s prices for individual decision makers. Therefore, regulatory instruments will be needed to encourage owners and users to refurbish, and also to ensure that refurbishment leads to improved energy performance.

–– EU institutions should allow member states enough freedom to tailor their building refurbishment policies to their own needs. However, the institutions nevertheless have an important role to play. In order of importance, our recommendations are:
1. To abolish to end-user regulated prices for electricity and gas
2. To internalize the cost of carbon in building refurbishment decisions
3. To establish national building refurbishment targets or to at least mandate the development of national building refurbishment action plans
4. To create an EU energy performance certificate scheme
5. To facilitate the design of a building refurbishment market framework
6. To continue to widen and strengthen technology standards and the labelling of building refurbishment technology, products and materials
7. To develop an EU building refurbishment technology roadmap
8. To use EU funding to support the implementation of the previous recommendations